The answer varies from person to person. Some individuals may be able to tolerate smaller amounts of dairy without experiencing symptoms, while others may need to completely avoid all dairy products. I eat cheese, yogurt, and dishes with milk like mac ‘n cheese without a problem. However, a glass of milk or a scoop of ice cream can cause some uncomfortable symptoms–gas, bloating, and frequent trips to the bathroom.
If you consume dairy products and have experienced digestive discomfort and symptoms like bloating, gas, diarrhea, and abdominal pain then you are lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance is fairly common. On average, 65% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant. This health condition occurs when the body lacks enough of the enzyme lactase, which is responsible for breaking down lactose, the sugar found in milk and dairy products.
If you think you are lactose intolerant don’t rule out dairy products yet. Here are a few tips:
Lactose Intolerance Tips
- Try lactose-free dairy products: Many grocery stores offer lactose-free milk, cheese, and other dairy products. These products are treated to break down lactose, making them easier to digest for those with lactose intolerance.
- Choose dairy alternatives: There are various non-dairy milk alternatives available, such as soy, oat, pea, almond, coconut, and others. Select alternatives that are fortified with calcium, vitamin D, and other nutrients.
- Consider lactase supplements: Over-the-counter lactase supplements are available in the form of pills, drops, or chewable tablets. Taking these supplements before consuming dairy products can help some individuals digest lactose more effectively.
- Gradually introduce dairy: You may be able to tolerate small amounts of dairy without symptoms. Try introducing dairy in small portions and see how your body reacts. Start with plain Greek yogurt or hard cheeses–cheddar, parmesan, mozzarella, and Swiss.
- Watch out for hidden sources of lactose: Lactose can be found in unexpected places, such as in processed foods, baked goods, salad dressings, and medications. Check ingredient labels for lactose or milk-based ingredients.
It’s important to listen to your body and work with a registered dietitian to determine the best approach for managing lactose intolerance. We can help you create a personalized dietary plan that meets your nutritional needs while avoiding triggering symptoms. We are accepting new clients. Click here to find out about our nutrition services and how we can help you on your health journey.